The Guide To Liver Tonic Supplements For A Healthy Liver
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What Does The Liver Do?
The liver is one of the most important organ in the human body. It has a few main functions in the body:
- Production of bile: Bile helps carry wastes away and break down fats in the small intestine
- Converts glucose: The liver converts glucose to glycogen, a form of energy storage in the body. This helps in glucose regulation in the blood
- Clearing toxins: The liver clears and processes a wide range of medications and other poisonous substances
- Helps in fighting infection: Immune factors which aid in our body’s immune system is produced by the liver. It also helps to remove bacteria from our blood
- Regulates clotting: Whenever we get a wound, clotting factors arrive at the site of injury and help to seal the open wound. These clotting factors are produced in the liver
As you can see, without a healthy liver, we would be susceptible to infections, our blood will not be able to clot properly, and toxins will accumulate in our body. Hence, it is crucial that we take good care of our liver.
Fortunately, there are a wide range of supplements available in the pharmacy which can help us in protecting our liver.
Liver Supplements In Malaysia
Here are the common types of Liver Supplements found in Malaysian pharmacies.
1) Milk Thistle
Perhaps the most popular of them all, milk thistle is a flowering plant which is also known as holy thistle or Mary thistle. Some supplements might use its more scientific term ‘silymarin’ on their packaging. Milk thistle is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. This means that it can protect liver cells from oxidative stress and reduce inflammation, which are common causes of liver diseases such as cirrhosis, jaundice and hepatitis.
This ingredient in often paired with milk thistle. Seen by most people as a pesky weed (or perhaps an attractive flower), it has many medicinal benefits. Similar to milk thistle, dandelion is an antioxidant. It also aids in bile production, hence helping to break down fat in the body. Dandelion possesses a diuretic effect which can help flush toxins out of the body.
Neem, or neem leaves specifically, have been in use for ages. Being a popular herb in traditional Indian medicine, it is used for a myriad of medicinal purposes. According to the Ayurveda, the plant in its essence is extremely bitter and this is what contributes to its cleansing properties. It helps the liver in its detoxification process by hydrolyzing fat compounds of toxins and makes it easier to be excreted from our bodies.
Phyllanthus is a shrub originated from India. In certain parts of India, it is renowned for treating conditions like jaundice and hepatitis. It helps in strengthening the outer layer of liver cells and improves the liver’s ability to deflect toxins. Phyllanthus is also known as the ‘stonebreaker’ as it is useful in treating kidney stones.
5) Phosphotidylcholine (PC)
Without getting too technical with its chemical structure, PC is basically a phospholipid connected to choline. You can see it as a building block of the membrane of your cells. This is present mostly in your brain and liver. Your liver requires choline to carry fat to the rest of the body. This prevents fat from accumulating the liver. PC also helps to repair liver cells and help regenerate damaged ones, thus protecting the liver as a whole.
Ademetionine, or S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), is an amino acid methionine. It is usually produced by our own bodies but there are instances where there might be a deficiency as our body produces less of it. Another compound, known as glutathione, is an antioxidant which is responsible in protecting the liver from oxidative stress. Ademetionine assists in this process by increasing the level of glutathione in the liver.
The cell membranes in our liver is made up of phospholipids. This ensures the fluidity of the membrane and allows substances to flow in and out of the cells. When this layer is damaged, many functions are also affected and in severe cases, the cell dies. Phospholipids are usually produced by the body but there are some which has to be taken though diet. These are known as essential phospholipids.
What Are Some Common Liver Diseases?
These conditions can mainly be categorized into alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Let’s have a look at these:
1) Alcoholic fatty liver
If you are one of those who enjoy a good pint of beer several times a week, there is a chance that this lifestyle is taking a toll on your liver. Alcohol is mainly metabolized in the liver into carbon dioxide and water. This process produces a substance called NADH which increases the synthesis of fats and this leads to accumulation in the liver.
2) Alcoholic liver cirrhosis
Cirrhosis means scarring of the liver tissues. When alcohol is consumed in large quantities over a period of time, the body starts replacing healthy liver cells with scar tissues. This is part of a process whereby it starts from fatty liver and progresses eventually to liver cirrhosis. A scarred liver is stiff, swollen, and is unable to carry out its function properly. This causes many of the liver’s processes to break down.
1) Non-alcoholic fatty liver (NAFL)
This refers to an accumulation of fat in the liver of someone who consume little to no alcohol in their daily lives. People with NAFL usually have no damage to the liver. This is caused primarily by a few medical conditions such as:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
People who has NAFL should change their form of lifestyle and have a healthy exercise routine incorporated into their daily lives.
2) Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)
This is a more severe form of liver inflammation. NAFL usually does not progress to NASH, but when it does, it usually brings about complications such as liver cancer, liver failure and heart diseases.
Who Should Be Taking Liver Supplements?
The liver is considered the most hardworking organ and sometimes, our lifestyles and certain medical conditions can burden this organ even more. If you are one of the following groups of people, you can consider starting on a liver supplement. You should also be more cautious and undergo a checkup once in a while to have your liver function assessed:
- Has high blood pressure
- Has high cholesterol
- Has a stressful lifestyle
Also, if you experience these following symptoms, it is best to be aware and pay your healthcare provider a visit:
- Severe tiredness
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes
- Abdominal pain or swelling
- Pale stool color
- Dark urine
The Bottom Line
The liver is an organ which you cannot live without, literally. It performs so many crucial processes in the body. Therefore, it is essential that we take good care of it. For more advice on which supplements to take to improve your liver health, browse through our extensive online shop or seek a few pointers from our pharmacists through our telepharmacy service.